Keen readers of the site will know that we're always on the lookout for ways to make vintage hardware look as good as possible on modern-day TV sets. Years ago, we dabbled in the world of scanline generators such as the SLG3000, and more recently we sang the praises of the OSSC, a device which upscales the standard definition signal from your dusty retro console and turns it into an image so crisp and sharp you'd swear it was PC-based emulation. We've also committed quite a few hours to investigating the growing range of GameCube HDMI adapters based on the open-source GCVideo platform – created by Ingo Korb – and all of which use the console's oft-overlooked digital AV port, which offered digital video years before it came as standard on the PlayStation 3.
So far, we've covered the GC Video Plug 'n Play 3.0, EON GDHD and EON GCHD Mk-II, all of which were quite pricey, despite doing pretty much the same thing. We're back with yet another review, which begs the question: what's so special about this new adapter that makes it worth a look when there are so many other options on the market already? The answer to that is simple: price.
Created by Insurrection Industries, the Carby is, for all intents and purposes, a close match to the other HDMI adapters available for the GameCube. However, it costs just £75, compared to the £120 the EON GCHD Mk-II retails for. Heck, an internal HDMI mod fitted by a professional will cost you at least that amount, if not more – and the Carby doesn't require you to pull your treasured console apart.
While the GCHD Mk-II comes with a range of extra features which make it arguably the most comprehensive option available right now, for most people the Carby will be perfectly fine – and it actually has some significant advantages over its rival. For starters, it comes bundled with a HDMI cable, while the GCHD Mk-II does not. It also ships with a remote control that allows you to access the OSD menu, which is required to change settings and tinker with the various options offered by the open-source GCVideo project (on the GCHD, you need to press a series of buttons on the controller to access this same interface).
On the downside, the Carby only slots into the GameCube's digital AV port, whereas both the GCHD Mk-I and Mk-II use a second plug – which fits inside the standard AV port – for added stability; the HDMI lead also plugs into the side of EON's adapters, which means it's easier to place your GameCube into your crowded entertainment unit beneath your TV. With the Carby (and the GC Video Plug 'n Play 3.0), you have to account for the adapter and the fact that the HDMI lead plugs in directly behind it, which makes it a bit of a nightmare to stow away. It also means that it doesn't take much to accidentally knock the Carby and unplug it from the console.
This is a minor complaint when you consider the price of the unit, however. And because it's based on the same GCVideo project, the Carby is as good at what it does as the GCHD Mk-II or the GC Video Plug 'n Play 3.0; the image produced by all three units is identical, and they all offer lag-free performance, too. As we said in our previous reviews, this comes with a caveat; while the image coming from the adapter may be rock-solid, not all TVs are capable of upscaling that 480i/480p image successfully. Some will make the visuals look slightly fuzzy, while others add in unwanted lag. You may need to experiment with several televisions before you find your own personal 'sweet spot', and it's wise to always remember that GCVideo-based adapters are not doing any upscaling of any kind. If you're used to the sharpness you get from the OSSC or a Framemeister, you may come away slightly disappointed.
Still, this is the cheapest way to get the best image quality out of your GameCube console, and it works like a dream; sure, you can muck about with the OSD to get the exact picture quality you require, but for most people all you need do is plug it in and you're away. Not every console can benefit from such an elegant solution (indeed, not all GameCubes can, either – later models removed the all-important digital AV port so check before buying), but it's great that there are now multiple options on the table for GameCube owners who want to extract a sharp image from their machine and use it on their brand-new flatscreen TV. While we're sure companies will continue to iterate on the GCVideo project with other adapters, for the time being, the Carby is the best choice if you're keen to keep costs as low as possible.
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